How to Clean Book Covers Safely

Hi friends!

I wanted to share something I learned, pretty quickly, as an Assistant Librarian: how to clean and save book covers!

It’s so simple, anyone can do it virtually anywhere. All you need is
1. a dirty book
2. tissues/paper towels
3. hand sanitizer
4. patience

The book pictured above was purchased from a bargain retailer. That means sometimes the books come in a little damaged, and less visually appealing. However this is always disclosed during the sale of the book, so it’s never a huge shock, and otherwise, the book itself is in wonderful condition.

It looked like this book had been dragged across the floor, dropped, or stepped on at some point during it’s lifespan. I crossed my fingers and got out my tools.

This was a more mat book cover, and the cleaning process did not damage the finish of the cover at all. So far the only cover I’ve seen be disagreeable to my cleaning process, are the covers that are more of a papered texture, like the cover I received on my copy of Wicked Saints. That one did not clean as easily.

So, the reason you’re all here, how do you clean your book covers?! Place a small dab of hand sanitizer onto your tissue, and gently apply this to the dirty spots on the cover. Move in small circular motions, until the dirt begins to lift. You’re probably going to use a lot more hand sanitizer than you expect to, and that’s okay. The tissue typically does it’s job too well and absorbs the sanitizer before it can really penetrate the dirty cover.

Depending on how dirty your book cover is, you may need to go over it more than once. This also works to remove finger prints, sticky candy (hello, elementary school librarian here), and other undesirable leftovers.

Got pesky sticker residue? Not anymore! A few passes with the hand sanitizer and those lingering specks of glue should lift no problem! Don’t rub too hard on these spots though, because they can tear part of the cover with them. Gentle patience is key with stickier situations.

Before: sticker residue, scuff marks, dirty spots.

And here’s our finished product, with no digital retouching! Good luck cleaning those dirty books! Remember, try a small section first to see if your cover is agreeable to the cleaning process, so you don’t ruin your entire cover on the first go.

All clean!

Do you have any other advice for cleaning your books? Let me know in the comments section!

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